Antonio Conte has a worthy opponent this Sunday in the form of Andrea Mandorlini, who led Hellas Verona on a meteoric rise through the lower leagues and has now taken the newly-promoted side to their current position of fifth in Serie A following an 11-year absence from the division.
The Verona boss plays a 4-3-3 formation, with shoo-in striker Luca Toni flanked by Bosko Jankovic and Juan Iturbe in their most recent fixture, a 2-1 away win over Sassuolo on Sunday.
Former Bundesliga top-scorer and ex-Juve man Toni is in excellent form and has now reached 10 goals for the first time since his 2008/09 campaign at Bayern Munich. His strongest attribute remains headers: he has netted four so far in Serie A, second only to Fernando Llorente’s five.
Daniele Cacia was the Serie B top scorer last season, but he’s still without a goal in the current campaign.
An important contributor for Verona with seven goals has been Jorginho, but the midfielder moved to Napoli in the winter transfer window, and a player of his flexibility will no doubt be missed.
In terms of creativity, the most important influence has been Romulo. The Brazilian is joint-second in the Serie A assist rankings with six, a part of his game that has really improved of late: while at Fiorentina in his previous two campaigns, he only managed two assists in total.
Mandorlini’s men have often been slow to get into their stride, to the effect that only Sassuolo have conceded more goals before the half-time whistle. While Juventus would still be top of the table if only first-halves were taken into account, Verona would be in a considerably lower position in 11th.
But the Gialloblu certainly know how to make the home advantage count after going in front at the Bentegodi. In fact, they’ve held on to all eight of the leads established at the ground where Juventus will be running out on Sunday afternoon.